Bill Maher is sometimes a trenchant, cranky, and astutely funny gadfly telling brave truths to power, and that guy can be a joy to watch. However, sometimes he’s merely a smug and cringeworthy backpfeifengesicht poster child nursing a nauseating schoolgirl crush on his own opinions. Maher’s unabashedly opinionated nature is an asset, but his arrogant posturing often blemished (I won’t say “marred” because that’d be cheap) his otherwise great feature length documentary-as-takedown Religulous. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool atheist who largely agrees with him on matters of faith, but his pomposity in that film sometimes felt just as gross to me as the most self-satisfied hubris of right wing Christian exceptionalists. But when he’s on, he can be magnificent, and the remarks that land him in the hottest water often happen to be the ones where he’s most dead-on correct.
And once in awhile he’s just an ass with shit for taste in music.
Just a couple of years ago, Maher tweeted that the game show Jeopardy was a game show for smart people and that Wheel of Fortune was for idiots. He’s not really wrong, but he might be a wee bit biased, as he himself appeared on Jeopardy twice. In November of 1995, he played Celebrity Jeopardy against actors Swoosie Kurtz and Charles Kimbrough. (His charity of choice: PETA. Have fun with that.) He returned two years later for a “Power Players” match against NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell and I shit you not disgraced Lieutenant Colonel and serial non-recaller Oliver North. In that episode, Maher pulled an Audio Daily Double in the category “It Came From Seattle,” wagered $1,700, and was treated to a clip of the excellent Melvins’ song “Copache,” a fan favorite from their 1993 album Houdini that’s liable to turn up in the band’s live sets to this day. The clip accompanied a question about the grunge movement, which of course rather famously emerged from Seattle (though Melvins themselves did not). Maher chose to opine about the song instead of answering the question, betraying his pedestrian tastes by lamely joking “well that song sucked, that’s for sure.” His pleas that he intended to answer the question fell on the tinnitus-deaf ears of righteous sludge metal rager Alex Trebek, and Maher forfeited his $1,700.
Serves his ass right. He’s probably a fuckin’ Eagles fan, anyway.
There is more, after the jump…